194. Summary of Conclusions of a Meeting of the Special Coordination Committee1


  • SALT


  • State
  • Secretary Cyrus Vance
  • Mr. Leslie Gelb, Director, Office of Politico-Military Affairs
  • Defense
  • Secretary Harold Brown
  • Deputy Secretary Charles Duncan
  • Mr. Walter Slocombe, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Security Affairs
  • JCS
  • General David Jones
  • Lt Gen William Y. Smith
  • CIA
  • Admiral Stansfield Turner
  • Mr. Ray McCrory, Chief, SALT Support Staff
  • ACDA
  • Mr. Spurgeon Keeny
  • Mr. John Newhouse, Assistant Director for the Bureau of International Security Programs
  • White House
  • Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski
  • Mr. David Aaron
  • NSC Staff
  • Mr. Reginald Bartholomew
  • Dr. Roger Molander


Backfire. Secretary Vance should meet with Ambassador Dobrynin and describe to him the commitments which we would like to see in the Soviet letter on Backfire. However, he should not provide Ambassador Dobrynin with a draft letter at this time. The list of commitments described should be based on that version of the draft letter prepared for consideration at the March 6 SCC meeting which includes the detailed description of the flight profile/payload configuration association with the specific Backfire operational range figure modified to include a commitment to at least one-for-one replacement of older medium bombers (attached). Next steps on this issue will be reviewed in the light of the Soviet reaction to this discussion.

New Types. The US should not agree to any exemption in our proposed ban on the testing and deployment of new types of ICBMs. The [Page 810] interpretation of our proposed “new types” definition should be adjusted as required so that adequate verification of the new types ban is assured.

Heavy Bomber Variants/ALCM-Carrier Type Rules. In our proposed counting rule for distinguishing between (1) heavy bombers and range cruise missiles and other aircraft (cf. Summary of Conclusions from January 9, 1978 SCC meeting),2 the term “functionally-related observable difference” should refer to differences in the observable features of aircraft which indicate whether the aircraft has the capability to perform the SALT-limited function (i.e., the heavy bomber or ALCM-carrier function). However, we should seek agreement on a grandfather clause which exempts Bear ASW aircraft from counting as heavy bombers and B–52’s without ALCM-related equipment from counting as ALCM carriers. The US position on the Bison bombers and tankers remains the same, i.e., that all Bison aircraft should count as heavy bombers until they are dismantled or converted under agreed procedures.

Cruise Missile Definition. The inconsistency between our proposals for the cruise missile definition and the heavy bomber definition should be eliminated in the context of other adjustments to our proposed heavy bomber definition. State and ACDA believe that the ban on ALCMs over 600km on aircraft other than heavy bombers should apply to conventionally-armed as well as nuclear-armed cruise missiles after the expiration of the Protocol. OSD and JCS believe that we should maintain the current position where there are no limits on conventionally-armed ALCMs on aircraft other than heavy bombers after the expiration of the Protocol.3

MIRV Verification. As a supplement to the agreed language on the MIRV verification launcher-type rule, we should seek Soviet agreement that, for the future, deployment of MIRVed missiles in launchers that look like launchers of unMIRVed missiles should be banned, and vice versa.

Non-Circumvention/Non-Transfer. We should provide the Germans and other allies with a description of the interpretative statement on non-circumvention which we would provide to the NAC and the Congress subsequent to Treaty signing, with a view to allaying their reservations. Once we have Allied reactions, the Delegation will be instructed to informally approach the Soviets in Geneva on the acceptability of our fallback language for settling the non-circumvention and non-transfer issues. The fallback will not be formally tabled until we [Page 811] are confident that it will close off the non-circumvention/non-transfer issue.

Zbigniew Brzezinski



Exchange of Letters Including Information on the Flight Profile

Soviet Letter

The United States has raised the question of the Tupolev variable-geometry wing aircraft, called “Backfire” in the United States, during the negotiations of the Treaty on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. To facilitate the successful conclusion of those negotiations, the Soviet Union hereby provides to the United States the following declarations and statements of obligations which shall apply for the duration of that Treaty.

The Soviet Union hereby declares that the Tupolev variable-geometry wing aircraft (including all variants thereof), called “Backfire” in the United States, is a replacement for current _______ medium bombers and is presently being produced at a rate of _______ units per year and that it has a range of _______ kilometers under the conditions given in the attached list. The Soviet Union undertakes not to increase the present production rate and not to increase the operational range of this aircraft. The Soviet Union undertakes not to operate this aircraft from Arctic bases associated with an intercontinental strategic mission, to remove external refueling probes, not to conduct aerial refueling operations between this aircraft and any other aircraft, not to otherwise improve its range/payload capability and to dismantle current _______ medium bombers as they are replaced by this aircraft. These _______ medium bombers will be dismantled at a rate equal to or greater than the production rate of this aircraft. The Soviet Union undertakes not to test or deploy this aircraft with cruise missiles with ranges greater than 600 kilometers, and not to fly this aircraft to intercontinental ranges in exercises or otherwise associate this aircraft with an intercontinental mission.

The Soviet Union trusts that the declarations made and obligations undertaken in this letter will lead to a satisfactory resolution of this question.

[Page 812]

US Letter

The United States acknowledges the letter from the Soviet Union dated _______, concerning the Tupolev variable-geometry wing aircraft, called “Backfire” in the United States. The United States is signing the Treaty on the Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms in reliance on the obligations undertaken in that letter, and considers them essential to the integrity of the obligations assumed under the Treaty.


List Appended to Soviet Letter


The range of _______ kilometers is attained under the following conditions;

with a payload of _______ kilograms dropped at the midpoint,

with a flight profile consisting of segments flown

(1) at _______ meters altitude, _______ kilometers per hour true air speed for _______ kilometers distance, with _______ degrees wing sweep angle,

(2) at _______ meters altitude, _______ kilometers per hour true air speed for _______ kilometers distance, with _______ degrees wing sweep angle,

(3) . . . . . . .6

This range is attained when the aircraft, which has a gross take-off weight of _______ kilograms, takes off with a full fuel loading of _______ kilograms, is loaded with an external payload of (list number and type of missiles, if any) is flown to maximize range under the conditions given above, and lands with a _______ percent fuel reserve.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 56, SALT: Chronology: 11/23/77–4/20/78. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.
  2. For a summary of the January 9 SCC meeting, see footnote 2, Document 192.
  3. A handwritten note by Brzezinski after this paragraph reads: “The President decided to maintain the current position. 3.14. ZB.”
  4. Secret. All omissions indicated by blank underlining are in the original.
  5. Secret. All omissions indicated by blank underlining are in the original.
  6. As on the original.